- Rob Carr/Getty
As President Trump made a series of controversial comments against the hundreds of NFL players who knelt during the national anthem in games over the weekend, NBC’s broadcast of “Sunday Night Football” saw a significant drop in ratings compared to its week three game in 2016.
The “Sunday Night Football” match-up between the Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins was down around 12.9% compared to last year’s game in the same week, according to Reuters.
For contrast, CBS’ Sunday games, as a whole, saw a slight uptick in viewership compared to last year, while Fox’s afternoon game was down 16%.
The “Sunday Night Football” ratings drop comes in the wake of Trump’s comments, starting at an Alabama rally on Friday, where he sparked controversy by saying that players who knelt in protest of the national anthem should be “fired.”
Numerous NFL team owners spoke out against Trump’s comments over the weekend. Meanwhile, more than 200 players knelt in protest during week three games, following in the path of a movement started by the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who protested police brutality and racial injustice against African Americans.
In turn, Trump tweeted about the NFL’s ratings woes amid his clash with the league, writing, “Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!”
The NFL has been suffering from repeated year-over-year declines in TV ratings. In the first week of this season, the league saw a 12% drop in ratings, which was followed by a 15% one in week two, according to Nielsen.
NFL ratings were down an average of 8% over the course of last season.
Last season, the most prominent explanation the league gave for the drop was “unprecedented interest in the presidential election.” While ratings did improve slightly after the election, this explanation is only one in a series of excuses that experts have given for the league’s bad ratings, which have continued since.